Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Street and sexual harassment

Street harassment and Sexual harassment 

Lately I have been reading a lot of women's experiences on street and sexual harassment. It amazes me what I have read, some of the things women have had to put up with is just not on. It then lead me to think of my experiences. Before reading other women's experiences with street and sexual harassment, I myself never thought I had gone through it. But then I realised I had. The first time was when I was about twelve years old. I was with two friends and we were walking along the street. As we got ready to cross the road, a car pulled up very slowly beside us. There were two very big looking men sat in the front. Both of them leered at us, before the driver stuck his hand out of the window and proceeded to say, "shake my hand, be my friend." I don't like to think what would have happened if we had. Instead me and my friends just ran. At the time me and my friends didn't think much of it, as we were only young we didn't really know what to make of it. 

The second time I have been harassed on the street, is a culmination of four times by one man. The first time I was walking home from college and he crossed the road to get to me. He then asked me my advice on how to get back with his girlfriend and continued to follow me down the street. The second time he and another guy asked me for some money, and again followed me. The third time I was on my way to college and he was waiting at the end of the street, I could see him watching me but there was nothing I could do as I HAD to walk past him. As I got to him, he stopped me asking if I'd received any post that morning. The fourth time I had an encounter with him was probably the scariest. I was again walking to college and he followed me, purposefully crossing roads when I did. He followed me for twenty minutes, all the way to my local town. Each time I have come across him in the street I have always felt nervous and intimidated, always wondering if he'll ever go that one step further.

There was another time after that, that I was again harassed on the street, this time by someone else. I was walking to work one day and as I was walking off a bridge, there were two guys on the other side. One proceeded to walk behind me, saying something that I couldn't hear, but made his friend laugh as he looked at me. The guy behind me then grabbed one of my arms as his other hand held onto my waist. The second guy stood near, but didnt do anything as his friend tried pulling me down another street away from anyone. Luckily I was quite strong and was literally metres from my work, I managed to get away from him and run to the office where I worked. This time was most frightening for me, I had no idea what this guy was trying to do or hoping to do. But I'm thankful I managed to get away. That afternoon I reported it to the police and made a statement to them. A few days later I got a call back, saying they had looked at CCTV and could see the incident happening. But as I wasn't hurt or sexually assaulted, there was nothing they could do. Or rather, they wouldn't do anything. At this I felt failed. What if I hadn't got away? What would have happened then? I can only imagine. 

Each of these times I have been harassed in the street I have felt nervous, intimidated and even scared. I shouldn't have to feel like that when I walk down the street, no one should have to feel like that. After the last incident, where I was grabbed in the street, I was told I should carry an alarm. But why should I? I wasn't doing anything, I wasn't wearing anything that could be described as provocative, and even if I was, that doesn't give guys the right to touch me, or grab me, or pull me.  When I was grabbed, there were people around. I even saw another guy looking over, throwing me a questioning glance. But he didn't do anything. Neither did all the other people walking around that busy, sunny afternoon. I didn't have other members of the public on my side or the police. So I guess I do need to protect myself. Because no one else will. 

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